Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article, Please comment at the end after reading this article! – Kent
Many church leaders publically speak out about the sins of people. There is a prophetic role for Christians, but sometimes it acts way out of balance. Jesus had a different posture. After his ascension, his body—the church—demonstrated it.
Many like to quote the New Testament letters to make public declarations to non-believers who are immoral, drunkards, homosexual, corrupt in business, adulterers, etc. They forget that the New Testament letters were written to those inside the church. The Scripture is also a great guide for those who are on a journey to Christ, and they have not yet arrived. For those without Christ, those in “darkness” (see John 12:46), it feels like rejection.
Jesus did not reject sinners—and the “religious people” had a fit about that. He did reject the religious leaders for their posture, and added, in John 12:48, “I did not come to reject the world: I came to save the world.”
Rodney Stark, in his brilliant book, The Rise of Christianity, tells about the social implications of the incredible growth of the early Christian movement. He demonstrates how, in the cutthroat, dog-eat-dog culture of the Roman Empire, there came along these transformed followers of Jesus, who demonstrated phenomenal love, acceptance, and service. Stark goes on to show, from a historical perspective, how this amazing behavior- so counterintuitive to human nature- made a huge impact. Many wanted to know what happened to change their lives. That created receptivity for the growth of the Jesus movement.
Back to John 12: Jesus goes on to make it clear, (as he speaks to his followers), verse 48: “…whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I am saying, is willfully choosing rejection.” (The Message)
Jesus continues, verse 49, “The Father who sent [the word for mission] me gave me orders, told me what to say, and how to say it.” Church leaders focus on content a lot—what to say. However, Scripture focuses equally on the need to “exegete your audience before you talk.” That means to learn as much as you can about your audience. When the audience is non-believers, the message is not hardcore challenge to clean up your act. It is love, acceptance and a relationship with Jesus. There is a different message to Christians than there is to non-Christians. Once people are Christians, the message is hardcore: “Let God clean up your life”. The message to non-Christians is: “A very awesome God loves you so much he gave his own son to make your life better forever.” (John 3:16).
Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article. Please comment below! – Kent